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Facebook vs. Twitter and Communities in General

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I had a conversation about communities with kara_k from the IdeaStorm team last week. We talked about traditional community sites like Friendster, Bebo, Facebook, Skyrock MySpace and LinkedIn. In that model, millions of folks are members and can connect with others there for different reasons.

Another thing we discussed is the trend toward micro-communities, where people can build their own. With them, it's less about platforms and tools and more about people. Newer conversation aggregation tools like FriendFeed and SocialThing make it possible for users to build micro-communities around folks that they find interesting. Twitter falls into this category as well. The micro-community model gets back to the old Cluetrain premise that markets are conversations. Rock on.

And that leads me to another point. In my experience, while there are a handful of folks who are avid users of both Facebook and Twitter, it seems that it's more common to see a huge preference in one vs. the other. I prefer Twitter. I know from talking to her that Jackie Huba is big on Facebook. For other Facebook supporters out there, would love to hear your reasons why you like it.

I've been a Facebook member for a while now, and have used it sporadically. I saw that Todd mentioned in his recent post that our IT department recently opened up Facebook access to all Dell employees worldwide (woo hoo!). In my view, it should not be blocked by IT. Neither should other social media sites. We have several groups in Facebook that different Dell teams have created (Dellbook, Dell Spot, the ReGeneration and Dell Embassy) if you want to take a look. With that, I wanted to take a few minutes to share my personal thoughts on both.

So I'll start with some things I don't like about Facebook:

  • I don't like the interface. It's way too busy for my taste.
  • I think it's too hard to find specific things in Facebook… know that's related to my hangups with the interface, but it's an important side effect.
  • I find the ads a real pain. I'm not interested in developing rock-hard abs, so please stop showing me that cheesy picture.
  • I agree with Graham Langdon. I don't get the concept of  leaving wall messages.

Some things I do:

  • I like Facebook's profile system. You can learn a lot about people's interests. That makes it very easy to find common ground with a lot of folks. I like that because I'm a common ground kind of guy.
  • It does work. Earlier this week, I logged into Facebook for the first time in a while. Within minutes of accepting most of the friend requests I had missed, I got pinged within minutes from an old college friend I hadn't seen in years. She recommended another friend from those days.. easy and effective.
  • It does work, part 2: iLike told me that Blind Melon was coming to Antone's. I already knew, but it's a good reminder to buy tickets. Can't wait.
  • I like the Facebook API model, even if I'm still waiting for truly useful apps.

Now on to Twitter. Regular Direct2Dell readers know I'm a huge Twitter fan. Let's start with the things I don't like:

  • Twitter's main web-based interface. I think it's kinda clunky overall, and only use it when I have to.
  • Its anemic profile system
  • It can be a waste of time. This is a complaint I hear from lots of folks. Here's a tip: Twitter's usefulness all comes down to the quality of the people you follow.

Now for the things I do:

  • It's streamlined purpose: Twitter is for conversation.
  • The 140 character-word limit is genius. I bet a lot of you are wishing that I had the same limitation on Direct2Dell right now.
  • The Twitter API is not too shabby either. Jeremiah's got a good list of add-on tools that enhance Twitter's usefulness.
  • Twhirl (my absolute favorite Twitter client by a longshot) brings all of Twitter's functionality in a streamlined interface. Seesmic… great move buying Twhirl, and thanks for giving Marco a reason to devote more development time to an already awesome tool. 

Add all this up, and I'm agreeing with Steve Hall. I see big things ahead for Twitter. Would love to hear your thoughts either way.

P.S.: You can reach me on Facebook at Lionel_Menchaca; and you can follow me on Twitter at LionelatDell.

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